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APR Update: PRSA releases steps to improve Accreditation in Public Relations

Changes in APR: How the credential is being revamped

A mark of distinction. A notch above the rest. A standout in the crowd.

These are all phrases used to describe those Accredited in Public Relations. For me personally, undergoing the APR process was the key to moving from a tactician to a strategist.

Where is the APR at today?

April is National APR Month, and I’m working with the Hampton Roads Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America to sponsor educational and awareness activities about the benefits of securing your APR. During these events, I will inform members about the updates from last year’s in-depth study of the credential.

The non-member committee identified steps to take in the next three years to improve the value and viability of the APR.

Step One

To take place this year, the Universal Accreditation Board will undergo a marketing effort to better clarify and promote the organization while it remains under the purview of PRSA National. There will also be a structured look into the participating organizations of the UAB and their adherence to standards, encouraging national board members of these organizations to become credentialed. An agreement will be put forth for signature between the organizations making up the UAB.

The APR process is also currently being evaluated for improvements. Working with senior human resources executives in the communications industry, PRSA is reviewing how more value can be added to the APR to help secure a position during job hunting.

Terminology throughout the process is also looking at a possible revamp. The term “Readiness Review” will most likely change to something more appropriate of a demonstration of how the candidate has applied PR principles throughout a career using contemporary strategies, tools and channels.

Finally in these immediate actions for 2015, core messaging will be aligned across all participating organizations to focus on life-long learning instead of career advancement. APR resources across all online platforms for these organizations will be given higher prominence. Senior APRs will be enlisted to help elevate the status of the credential throughout the field.

Step Two

In the next two years, the UAB will create a plan to become an independent organization. Providing a level of autonomous credibility to the credential, each participating organization, including PRSA, will be held accountable to standards for the APR enforced by the UAB.

Reference materials for the APR process will be reduced to key texts, making all other preparatory titles optional.

Senior HR executives will be engaged to create more demand for the credential in job postings.

Step Three

For the longer term plans of three years or more, the UAB will create a business plan to open the credential up to communications professionals across the industry, including those outside of the participating organizations.

Specialized training will be developed and implemented for review panelists who judge potential candidates for consistency throughout the credentialing process. Consistent materials will be distributed to chapters to help prepare candidates for the APR. Once obtained, more stringent requirements aligned with knowledge, skills and abilities will be put into place to maintain accreditation.

Where will the APR go next?

As updates are made and improvements are implemented, the APR only gains to strengthen from these new initiatives. Be on the lookout for more job postings requiring the credential and for more professionals beginning their journeys toward accreditation.

To learn more, join the UAB for an APR Open House today, Tuesday, April 7, at 3 p.m. EST. Click here for the details.

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